Is Iowa Poised for a Rebound?

One of the seemingly more hopeless teams in the Big Ten toward the end of last season was Iowa.  Not only had the Hawkeyes gone 4-8 (2-6 in conference), but they were about to lose their quarterback to graduation along with some of their other better players (all-conference cornerback Micah Hyde, 2nd team all conference center James Ferentz, honorable mention all conference left tackle Matt Tobin and defensive end Joe Gaglione).  Their new schedule got tougher with a trip to Ohio State and a home stand with Wisconsin (versus games with Penn State and Indiana the past two years).    Their latest recruiting class was ranked among the lowest in the Big Ten.  So where do you find hope if you're an Iowa fan?


Buying Opportunity?
Phil Steele looks at a number of indicators before making his season forecasts.  One of them is what he calls his "Stock Market Indicator".  He compares last year's win-loss record to the two seasons that preceded it.  When last year's record is very different from the prior two seasons, that can be an indication that things may be about to change.  Statisticians often refer to this phenomenon as "regression to the mean".  Iowa's decline of 3.5 games in 2012 from the 7.5 win average in the 2010-2011 seasons would suggest a strong likelihood that the Hawkeyes win at least five games this year.  

Healthy Running Backs?
One of the funnier college football memes that's arisen in recent years is the "Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God" or AIRBHG coined by the Black Heart Gold Pants Blog heading into the 2010 season.    Iowa responded to a particularly painful beating at the hands of the rushing deity in 2012 by signing three running backs to last season's recruiting class.  None of these guys were that highly rated, but considering how thin they became at the position, it still beats walk-ons.

But That Schedule
They open at home against a Northern Illinois team that went 12-2 a year ago, that brings back a star quarterback (though the Hawkeyes did eke out a victory over the Huskies at Soldier Field a year ago).  They travel to Iowa State to face a team that beat them in Iowa City a year ago with a rising star at quarterback.  Their easiest conference games are at Minnesota and at Purdue, two teams they split with a year ago.  Iowa will probably be the underdog hosting Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin and at Ohio State and Nebraska.  They did score an upset in East Lansing against the Spartans a year ago.  Then again, Phil Steele's Stock Market Indicator points more strongly to a MSU improvement than an Iowa one.

It's hard to see dramatic improvement for the Hawkeyes in 2013.  But one or two well-placed upsets could get them to five wins or even allow them to sneak into a bowl.  Topping the two-win mark in the conference will be a challenge though.  Steele's Stock Market Indicator isn't fullproof.  Three or fewer total wins wouldn't be entirely shocking either.

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Comments 18 comments so far

Is Iowa poised for a rebound?


That program is as stale as a year old loaf of bread.  The Ferentz magic has run its course.  He and Mack Brown should retire and go fishing together.

I work with a lot of Iowa fans, and the look on their faces when you bring up football says it all. Too bad they signed Ferentz till he will be ready for a wheelchair.

No way.

Uh no.  Greg Davis.


@dkdevine:  “(Be smart. Be funny. Be nice. Pick…at least one)”

@dkdevine: it must be depressing to have such a pathetic life…I feel sorry for you.


I wouldn’t know…you might need to fill me in on how it is for you.  Seriously, no one can take a joke eh?  Iowa has long been the butt of Husker fan jokes…nothing to see here, move along.

Just for factual, reference purposes, which team was the most recent to play in a BCS bowl game?  And win it?

That’s right…those ‘stale’ Iowa Hawkeyes.


The Ohio State Bucks won the 2010 Rose Bowl over Oregon and the 2011 Sugar Bowl over Arkie - the latter being vacated due to some very unfortunate shennanigans by a few players and a coach who covered it up. 

But, me thinks you are factually misunderconfused.

Plus - since your insinuation is that the program is not “stale” then I suppose you are implying that Iowa is a strong, vibrant, perennially contending program?  Uh, OK.  Parallel realities are constructed to avoid the pain of reality.  :)

Winner—I was comparing Iowa’s recent BCS history to Nebraska’s.  Your 2010 Rose Bowl team was good—good enough to beat Iowa that year for the title…on your home field, in OT, with Iowa having to start a FR QB in his first college start.

You are correct tho, Ferentz and new OC Davis have a lot to prove after last year’s debacle.

I remember that 10 game vs. Iowa well.  Vandenberg played great until he didn’t.

Tressel was a coach who played for punts and fg’s and put the onus on his defense to win the game.  Meyer does the opposite.  The onus is on the offense to win the game and anything the defense can do to help is a plus.  When you go spread and hurry up, you tend to score but you also wear your defense out.

I guess the point is that Tressel played in such a way that made it hard for teams to be successful offensively, but he limited his own offense in order to do that - which resulted in some games that were closer than they should have been - and a few losses.  Make no mistake, Urban will be trying to hang 60 on you and see if you can keep up.  I revere the former (minus his indiscretions), but love the reveral of philosophy in the latter.

I lived in Davenport for 5 years and love the state of Iowa.  Great people.  I want to see the Hawkeyes be what they can be.  But they have not recruited all that well, and while they have had some misfortune with injuries, particularly at RB, the haven’t performed all that well lately. 

You talk to Texas fans and they hate G Davis with a passion.  They feel that he can only be successful with exceptional talent - which Iowa does not have.  And with the head coach, most uber successful business people I know say that you have 10 years to make your mark in a place.  The first few years are spent putting your system in place, which is followed by several years of optimal success, followed by a decline.  I see KF in that decline. 

I believe that you have around 10 years to be at a place, give or take a few years, but eventually your act grows stale, everyone is sick of you, and it becomes time to move on.  When coaches hang on too long, it doesn’t end pretty.

Wise words, Winner.  Hayden Fry certainly knew when to get out.  KF’s issues are that he’s a nice guy that surrounds himself with ever nicer people—not necessarily the best football people.  And there aren’t too many programs who combine a power running game with a no-huddle offense, which the Hawks apparently will try this year.  I WILL go out on a limb and suggest that Iowa will hold the Bucks under 60 this year—after all, they’re not the so-called Blackshirts.  :)  At this point, Iowa is more concerned with their opener:  Northern Illinois.

@WinOSU:  “I believe that you have around 10 years to be at a place”  unless you’re T.O.

I agree - but TO, Woody, Bo, the Bear, Bobby Bo,  Joe Pa, etc. are relics of the past - from a time when winning and money hadn’t taken over college athletics.  Right now, who has a top 10 program and has been there for 15-20+ years?

Let’s take Frank Beamer as an example.  He has had some national title contending teams off and on, but none recently.  Va Tech still has a good name, but with every year that passes without them being all that relevant, that will change. 

I wish we were still in the day when a legendary coach can stay at one school for 30 years - and a occasional downturn can be tolerated, but we are in an era where coaches have to win, win big, and keep doing it. 

So, you have 10 years in this environment, and then you better be looking to land somewhere else.  I really believe that is the way it is - but it is not the way I wish it was.


“Winning” has ALWAYS been first and foremost in college football. Face it, if you were not holding your own against your archival, your days were numbered. Nebraska is an exception for some reason. The fans had no way to know that T.O. would win 3 ntl championships in the last 3 years of his career.

Coach Switzer would still be coaching today setting all kinds of records if the NCAA wasn’t so natzified, and besides, he had different rules to live by. Evidently, he was responsible for each of his athlete’s actions when it was obvious that it was all his fault and not the parents upbringing.

Funny thing, none of his kids ever spent a day in jail.

I hear you - and you make some good points.  However, I will still maintain that you show me a guy who is in year 2 or 3 and is showing no signs of challenging for a conference title, or a guy in year 6, 7, or 8 who isn’t fielding a top 30 team, and I will show you a guy on the hot seat.  And if those coaches do survive a few years of struggle, they won’t be around long. 

I think social media has also really changed the time coaching tenures in addition to the big time money that comes with winning.  Winning has been important since the invention of competion, but the environment that presently exists, is noticeably different than that of Switzer,


Not sure exactly how I did it but for what it’s worth my response to you posted under the ‘2014 Recruiting’ thread. Time to get a new iPad, I guess.

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